The Boston Red Sox had ample opportunity to bolster their bullpen during the offseason but failed to do so
The World Champions currently are the Boston Red Sox. If there was ever a chance of a repeat, the odds of signing big names are dwindling. They lost a major key 2019 benefactor in Joe Kelly who joined the Dodgers for 3 years and $25 million, a number the Red Sox easily should have matched. Some argued that he wasn’t worth the 8+ annual salary over the three year deal. Okay, so they let Kelly go. Still there were some big names on the market.
Adam Ottavino was still there. He got snatched up by the Yankees. Damn. Zach Britton got signed for three years and is back in New York as well. Damn damn. Dellin Betances will undeniably be a free agent after signing a $7.25 million dollar one year deal for 2019. Betances felt disrespected by the contracts that he was receiving under arbitration and he has every right to be after the Yankees decided to take the cheap way out.
Still, that leaves the Red Sox bullpen in major disarray. The closer left and is still currently a free agent. Craig Kimbrel was looking at getting a $100 million dollar deal over 6 years. At this point, he’s not going to get that kind of deal, especially after the major meltdown in the 2018 World Series. The Sox didn’t win it because of Kimbrel, they won it despite him.
The Red Sox were able to lock down a couple of players in early January by securing the services of Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman and Steven Wright. Most recently, Boston secured a deal with Jenrry Mejia who is coming back after serving a lifetime ban. So naturally, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding the bullpen. Why shouldn’t there be?
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There is no closer and we just agreed to terms with someone who hasn’t pitched since 2015 and only appeared in 7 games that season. His last full season was back in 2014. Doesn’t really scream confidence to me or other fans. It’d be silly to question Dave Dombrowski as he did just win a World Series. We also can’t forget that Dombrowski was a big part of the 1997 Florida Marlins team that had a major fire sale post World Series.
While that didn’t happen this year, not signing players to help the team get back to the World Series is concerning. One player to target who is still a free agent is Brad Brach. He dominated once he got traded to Atlanta. Perhaps a change of scenery for Brach would be a good idea. He would be 33 this season and has major experience pitching in the American League East as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
When you look at the guys that got re-signed we look at Wright who had a great 2016, was abysmal in 2017 and had a short bounce back in 2018. Wright is going to be 34 this season. Barnes has been getting better each year since 2015, lowering his ERA and raising his total number of strike outs. He could be the solution at closer. Then we have to figure out who takes his spot in Boston’s bullpen. The last guy on the list was Workman.
Workman was a disaster in 2013 and in 2014, producing a 1-10 record with a 5.17 ERA. The following two seasons, Workman never saw any time in the bigs. In 2017, Workman did major work, had to throw in a little pun in there. Workman followed that up with a great 2018 campaign, a 6-1 record and 3.27 ERA. Still, these options are still not as appealing as some of the other names that could have joined Boston or the ones still on the open market.
Kimbrel could still join Boston on a much shorter deal that he had wanted as well as bringing in another former AL East reliever in Brad Boxberger. Will it happen? I don’t anticipate both players signing and the odds of getting one of those guys to join is probably less than 10%. One thing is for sure, the Red Sox bullpen will be one of the most watched things headed into this season.